VOLUNTEERS from Norton and Pickering joined people from community-managed libraries across North Yorkshire to celebrate their success, share ideas and look to the future at the county’s annual library conference.

In April this year, 21 community libraries joined those already in operation as part of a reconfiguration by North Yorkshire County Council of its library service following reductions in government funding.

At the event, organised by the county council, about 120 people from community library groups enjoyed the chance to share experiences and ideas. They also took part in workshops on topics, including marketing and communications, planning for the future, fundraising, volunteer training, IT and the library in the 21st century.

Longer-established community libraries, Derwent Valley Bridge at West Ayton and Bilton and Woodfield, also shared their experience.

County Councillor Greg White, executive member for libraries, said: “We have a lot of really enthusiastic volunteers providing excellent services to their communities. We have 33 of these libraries with 2,500 volunteers and every one of them is doing well.

“It has been a tremendous achievement to get where we are today. The county council is really proud to be working with you to develop these excellent services. We are here to support you with books, IT infrastructure and our staff’s time.

“We absolutely want this service to go from strength to strength. We understand that there will be bumps along the road and you will need help. We are here to provide that help.”

The conference celebrated the performance of the county’s libraries in this year’s summer reading challenge, which encourages children aged four to 11 to read during the summer holidays. This is a major event in the libraries’ calendar and came just two months after the community groups took over. The conference heard that across the Yorkshire and Humber region, 29 per cent of children who completed the challenge came from North Yorkshire, as did 37 per cent of the young volunteers recruited to help to run the scheme.